Governments bring the greatest benefit to their people, not by operating businesses, but by investing in infrastructure that stimulates and facilitates economic growth. An outstanding example of this principle at work is the Australian Marine Complex (AMC) at Henderson, WA. On 8 February, the Melville-Cockburn Chamber of Commerce visited the precinct with around 30 of its members, an arrangement facilitated by WA DEFENCE REVIEW.
Opened in 2003, the AMC is a world-class centre for excellence for manufacturing, fabrication, assembly, maintenance and technology development, servicing the marine, defence and resource industries. Since inception, the facility has surpassed all expectations, generating in excess of $2.4 billion for the local economy and creating more than 37,400 jobs from some 417 projects.
Only slightly off “the beaten track”, this magnificent facility on the Cockburn Sound foreshore can easily be missed by the motorist. The slight deviation is rewarding, even without gaining entry to the site. Entry, of course, is restricted, in keeping with the sensitivity of projects being undertaken, but can be arranged for select business groups.
AMC General Manager, Jonathon Smith, used multi-media to illustrate the four main precincts: Marine, Technology, Fabrication, and Support Industry, which host more than 150 businesses. The Facility has international credentials for the repair, maintenance and construction of naval and commercial vessels, as well as infrastructure for the fabrication and assembly of offshore oil and gas modules.
While much of the acreage is leased to relevant private companies, the WA Government retains a substantial zone called the Common User Facility (CUF), where both space and facilities can be rented for the period required to complete a project. This not only saves companies from having to invest in their own infrastructure for one-off jobs, but it enables them to bid for major construction projects that would otherwise be lost to WA. The CUF is managed for WA Government agency LandCorp.
In 2010 the WA Government invested $170 million in the AMC to provide a 99m x 53m floating dock and a self-propelled modular transporter (SPMT), which enables the CUF to transfer vessels, including Collins Class submarines, and other heavy modules between land and water. Since its installation, some 150 vessel transfers have occurred, for repair, maintenance, and even decommissioning purposes – all work that may otherwise have been lost to WA. Plans have been drawn for extensions to the floating dock, sufficient to handle the most recent and planned additions to the RAN fleet. If implemented, this will enable all but one ship-type to be docked in Perth – the remaining type being based on the East Coast.
The Melville-Cockburn group was invited aboard the floating dock – christened the “Yargan”, an Indigenous Noongar word meaning tortoise – which towers above the AMC, providing unparalleled views of the entire Complex and as far as Fremantle and Kwinana. This state of the art vessel is equipped to safely and accurately complete a docking largely autonomously, once specific data have been entered into its computer, saving both time and person-hours. The group also viewed the self-propelled transporters that transfer vessels from the dock to any part of the hard-stand area within the Complex. Imagine driving a warship around on land with a hand-held device and you’ve got the picture!
In a convivial finish to the evening, refreshments were provided, inspiring networking, relationship building, and further discussion of the AMC’s capabilities. As one person commented, no matter how many times you visit the AMC there is always something new going on and further expansion planned. Everything at the AMC is big and that seems entirely fitting for a State with WA’s reputation for massive resource developments. It’s no idle claim to say the AMC is a factor driving economic growth in WA.
“The Melville Cockburn Chamber of Commerce is delighted to be given the opportunity to extend to its members an invitation to tour the floating dock at the AMC in Henderson recently. The tour was coordinated by WA DEFENCE REVIEW
The feedback from the MCCC members that attended the tour was very positive, with many of those who had the privilege to experience the tour and view the general surroundings of the ship building prescient stating that it was unique experience.
The MCCC looks forward to building a even stronger relationship with the WA Defence Sector and would welcome the opportunity to participate in any future AMC tours.”
Tony Romano, President, Melville Cockburn Chamber of Commerce